A Youngstown man accused of shooting and killing 42 year old Lance Louis of New Castle back in April of this year, has waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The New Castle News reports 20 year old Leighton Weaver remains in the Lawrence County Jail with bond.  Louis was shot in his car on the city’s east side and when he tried to drive away his car crashed into a nearby pole and caught fire.  The Lawrence County coroner reported Louis died from the gunshot wound and not from the car crash and fire and ruled the death a homicide. Weaver was arrested a month later in Florida.

According to this week’s Triple-A East Central Gas price report the average price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania is up 13 cents this week to 3.86 a gallon.  In New Castle and Sharon drivers are paying 3.78.  The national average for a gallon of gas surged 16 cents over the past week to $3.75. The primary cause is the cost of oil, which has increased to over $80 per barrel.  As oil accounts for almost 50 percent of the cost of a gallon of gas, higher oil prices usually mean higher pump prices. Today’s national average of $3.71 is 21 cents more than a month ago but 47 cents less than a year ago.

– Both sides have presented their arguments and jurors will begin deliberations today in the final penalty phase of the trial of Robert Bowers. The jury has already determined that he is eligible for the death penalty.  The prosecution and defense rested their cases Monday in the penalty phase and now jurors will be tasked with deciding if Bowers will be put to death.

 The financial deadline for Pennsylvania students enrolling in college and other educational programs is tonight. Officials with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency say students must file their paperwork known as a FAFSA application by midnight tonight central time.. The application is free and can be done online at p-h-e-a-a dot org slash college-planning.

Senate President Pro Tem Kim Ward says budget negotiations have resumed and that lawmakers could return to the capitol this month. The Republican leader also has remarked that Governor Josh Shapiro could smooth the process by signing the budget passed by both chambers in July. However, the governor says he can’t sign the budget until the Senate sends it to him. He also has pledged to use a line-item veto to remove a school voucher provision when it does reach his desk. Under currently announced schedules, the Senate is set to return September 19th and the House would return September 26th.

State Police in Butler County report an Evans City man was the victim of identity theft.  Police said the suspect created fraudulent checks and cashed them using the victim’s bank account. Police said about three thousand dollars was reported stolen.  The investigation is ongoing.  

Democratic U.S. Senator John Fetterman has introduced a measure to make striking workers eligible for SNAP benefits. In a statement introducing the Food Secure Strikers Act, the Pennsylvania lawmaker says workers are currently excluded from SNAP benefits if they’re on strike.  SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federal system formerly known as food stamps. Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator Bob Casey is also supporting the legislation.

A couple of state lawmakers are proposing measures that would establish an urban search and rescue task force for Western Pennsylvania.  State Senator Devlin Robinson and Representative Dan Miller have each put together a bill that would fund training and equipment for the team.  Officials say the need for such a rescue crew became apparent following the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse, when first responders from Philadelphia had to be called in.  The proposed measures are being discussed by the various legislative committees in Harrisburg. 

A Pittsburgh man was taken to the hospital following a motorcycle accident in Butler County.  State Police report 72 year old John Pullen was eastbound on Eau Claire Road, when he traveled off the roadway and struck a ditch.  Pullen was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered chest and arm injuries.  He was transported to Grove city Hospital for treatment.

A comment period for feedback is now open for people who want to voice their opinion about expanding broadband internet service in Pennsylvania.  Officials say comments about the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program – otherwise known as “BEAD” — will be used to help finalize plans to ensure internet access for all Pennsylvanians. The deadline to comment is August 8th.  You can fill out the on-line feedback form on Department of Community and Economic Development’s website.

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